Press Association/AP
Chief Inspector Michael Hanlon holds a press conference at Stevenage Police Station
in Hertfordshire.

Torso Turns Up, Thickening Plot in UK Murder Case

April 14, 2009 07:30 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
A suitcase containing a man's torso is the latest find in a case in which several body parts have been discovered in different English villages. The case is reminiscent of last year's mysterious severed feet case.

Authorities Scramble to Piece Case Together

Police say the torso is from the same male victim whose body parts have been found in various places across Britain. The suitcase holding the torso was found in Hertfordshire on April 11, reported the BBC. The victim has not yet been identified, however, and police in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Leicestershire are continuing to investigate.

The man's leg and arm were found first, in the town of Hertfordshire in late March, followed by the discovery of his head near a farmer's cattle pen, located approximately 80 miles away in Asfordby, in early April. A week later, police found another unnamed body part on a highway, the A10 Puckeridge bypass, according to the Daily Telegraph. The find marked the third in nine days.

During the early days of the investigation, the BBC reported on the discovery of the man's head, and spoke with lead investigator Julia McKechnie. She told the BBC that police were "keeping an open mind as to why and how the head came to be in the field."

Historical Context: Severed feet from the Pacific Ocean

This troubling case is reminiscent of the multiple severed feet that washed ashore from the Pacific Ocean in 2007 and 2008. In total, five human feet were found on Canadian shores over the course of about a year and a half, along with one foot that was carried ashore in Washington state last August. The feet were all thought to be right feet, and each one was encased in a low-cut man's sneaker, according to authorities' statements in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
More recently, in December 2008, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that DNA tests had linked a left foot found in the Fraser River the month before with a right foot that washed up on Kirkland Island, B.C., the previous May. The British Columbia Coroners Service told media outlets that they'd identified the feet as belonging to one unidentified woman. No foul play was suspected, according to comments made by Terry Foster, a senior public affairs officer, in a news release.

Related Topic: Video game stunt involves fake severed limbs

In video game promotional efforts last month, a Japanese firm left severed prosthetic arms soaked in fake blood in cities around Britain. Each limb held a copy of the violent new game, Sega's Madworld, reported The Sun. It was the second time that gaming companies "used fake body parts as shock tactics to sell their products" in March. Severed fake heads and entire fake torsos were left in Trafalgar Square in London in efforts to promote the Nintendo Wii game Resident Evil 5, prompting complaints to local police.

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